It’s time to honor our anniversaries with more than just gifts.
It’s wedding season. Which also means it’s anniversary season! So how are you honoring your family’s birthday?
Studio 5 Marriage & Family Contributor Dr. Liz Hale says an anniversary should be a day that reflects who and what you’re celebrating. She has five ways to make your annual anniversary anything but average.
5 Ways to Honor Our Anniversaries
According to a 2021 Real Weddings Study, 80% of all weddings take place between May and October. (With June, August and October as the most popular wedding months!)
Since we are in now in wedding and anniversary season, how do you make an annual anniversary anything but annual and average?
MAKE ANNIVERSARIES AUTHENTIC
When you married, you created something that never existed before that is perfectly unique. Not only that, the act of being in a committed relationship changes YOU as individuals through the many sacrifices and compromises it requires.
Ask any artist about the creative process. They will tell you the process is awesome, messy, agonizing, joyous, elusive, fun, risky, maddening, invigorating, mysterious, and all of these at once. It’s not all that different in a relationship. You’ll imagine, invent, fail, and reimagine and reinvent countless times as you move through your life together.
Create shared meaning through rituals, roles, and goals. It can be awesome, messy, agonizing, fun, risky, maddening, invigorating…all at once.
No two relationships are even kind of the same. We come together in the strangest and most wonderful ways. We may have similar struggles, but we experience them differently. When we thrive, we thrive differently. When we dive, we dive differently.
Bottomline: do not compare your marriage or your anniversary celebration to anybody else’s. It’s your and yours alone. This is about connection not about competition.
Promise no marital comparisons in the coming year. Keep your eyes on your own marriage. Attend to it and nobody else’s!
MAKE ANNIVERSARIES ATTENTIVE
There is nothing more meaningful than experiencing the interest of your partner. Give your partner the gift of your full presence.
Safety. Acceptance. Soft eyes. No sneer or eye roll. An easy smile.
The brain needs prediction to feel safe. You want your name, your face & body, to represent peace and safety to your partner.
Your partner is dying for you to know who they are and how they feel.
Promise more safe predictability in the coming year.
MAKE ANNIVERSARIES APPRECIATIVE
Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, express appreciation, show your love, and strengthen your bond. Appreciate what you CAN do instead of harboring on what you can’t do either because of age, health or wealth.
Boredom can silently kill a relationship, while new experiences can reinforce and reinvigorate your bond. Appreciate your abilities and do something new to celebrate. Learn to dance at home YouTube videos galore. Create a playlist of your favorite love songs. Take a cooking or art class. Make a promise to appreciate life and your partner more in the coming year!
MAKE ANNIVERSARIES AFFECTIONATE
Researchers at Penn State determined that it’s not the grand gestures that show our partner love. It’s the small gestures, hugging, holding hands, and regular acts of kindness that top the list of how most Americans report feeling loved and appreciated.
When marriages fail, it is not an increase in conflict that is the cause. It is a decrease in affection and emotional responsiveness that is the cause. (Source: Dr. Sue Johnson)
Promise to be more affectionate in the coming year!
MAKE ANNIVERSARIES ASPIRING
Anniversaries are ultimately about accomplishing 3 main goals: 1) Remembering the past, especially the love story that led up to today; 2) Appreciating the present, being grateful for the unique and special tributes that each partner brings to the relationship. 3) Recommitting to the relationship and restating shared goals for the future.
Ask open-ended questions that aspire you both to greater heights: What is something that you wish I would do in the coming year? What is something you wish I would NOT do in the coming year? What fun things would you like to make a regular part of our lives? When did I make you laugh the hardest? When was our most embarrassing moment as a couple?
Promise to keep in mind the marriage of your partner’s dreams.
Bottomline: Do not take anniversaries for granted.
After the passing of a partner, anniversaries are painful reminders of what was lost. Take nothing for granted. It’s a bit like birthdays. The alternatives (not having them) are not nearly as sweet.